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This Week in Anime
The Gremlins and Beasties of Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun
by Nicholas Dupree & Andy Pfeiffer,
Halloween may be technically behind us, but the holiday spirit lives on throughout the fall anime season. This week, Nick and Andy pay a friendly visit to the monsters of Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun.
Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Hey Nick! I know last time we talked about wrestling in a fantasy world, but what if I told you this week we get to talk about wrestling in a fantasy world
Nick Well then Andy, I'd tell you to go to hell. But then I guess we're already there.
And for once there's no place I'd rather be!
Thankfully we're not alone, since we're following the devilish adventures of this tiny blue teddy bear shaped like an anime boy
Iruma is a very good boy with a very unfortunate life. I fully expected him to be bland and overpowered but I've been consistently surprised by how he's handled. The whole show has a weird feel to it because it feels like a mashup of Hayate the Combat Butler and Disgaea, or some kind of non-horny answer to Rosario + Vampire, all things that seriously pre-date the current isekai trend that this show really doesn't engage with
It honestly feels odd to call Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun an isekai show. Like it is, technically! But its tone and style are so far separated from the current trend that it's sort of like calling Mickey Mouse a furry.
I fully appreciate that the series begins with consent, and even though our precious boy is a bit too broken to decline it's a great mood setter. Considering how many shows I've now seen with various kinds of slave contracts, straight up adoption to a better life by a kindly Demon Grandpa is pretty good
Ditch your deadbeat parents to live with your doting, rich new Grandpa who paid your tuition to Demon Hogwarts? Even with the risk of being eaten alive by your classmates that sounds like a great deal to me. Live your best life Iruma.
Whether or not he knows it, he totally is and I am here to support him. Even (or especially) if his best life means being surrounded by a whole mess of weirdos that could kill him in an instant
Which the first thing that clued me in that this series was worth paying some attention to was the detail of all those various creatures. Nearly every scene has a new distinct design just hanging out and it makes even some of the duller scenes have some nice visual fun to them
For me the first thing to really charm me was the soundtrack - it's very archetypical, but some part of me that still likes watching those bad Halloweentown movies every october will always appreciate the Halloween Episode vibe it channels.
It's super fitting! But holy shit did the OP catch me off guard when it first kicked in. Nothing says Halloweentown like YELLING ENGLISH over some funky beats
Oh man that opening. I don't know who decided to get a Boy band from the 90s to record a track for a kids show but god bless them and DA PUMP. Warning: Do not watch that video unless you want to have BABI BABI BABI BABI BABI BABI BABI BABI LOO stuck in your head until the day you die.
I feel like it shouldn't work but it's so fun and energetic that it does, and that kinda applies to the whole show. I think the isekai trend has broken me because while the plot and joke setups in the genre tend to repeat themselves, somehow it works when this one plays them straight, even though I keep waiting for it not to. Turns out it's not about being overpowered in another world, but about how earnestly and light-hearted you can be while doing so
It also helps that the titular Iruma-kun isn't trying to become the Isekai Ubermensch. All he wants is to go to school like a normal kid, make friends, and avoid getting eaten by said friends. But between his overly supportive granddad and sheer luck, he stumbles into being the biggest badass on campus without ever meaning to.
It reminds me a lot of the joke of King in One-Punch Man, and while that joke was great in a series full of blood and violence it works just as well here. Each time Iruma-kun is presented with a new challenge he boldly goes for it expecting to shrug off failures as just that, simple failures. And somehow circumstances work out in such a way that his legend continues to grow. One of my personal favorites is his very first class where he has to summon a familiar even though only demons are supposed to be able to...
Harry Potter would have turned out a lot different if he'd gotten to turn Snape into a pigeon halfway into Book 1
The show is very good at setting up these dominos and then having fun letting them fall. It's also great at getting in that little extra jab at the end, like this other background teacher being very into this turn of events
It makes the school feel like a realized world. There's so many unnamed characters reacting to events that everything feels lived in. This dumb boy's stupid human waves keep rippling out into their lives, everything he does is felt
The school does still run on a lot of Anime School stereotypes, right down to randos in the hall espousing how cool the student council are, but it uses that to build a big cast of personalities to pop up in the background whenever needed. Though I could do without the Mineta Owl
Be nice to our Steve stand in while he's on vacation
Fair, but on that subject the biggest surprise for me has been Clara. I expected LOL-Random buttmonkey but somehow we've got an actual likable gremlin
I'll admit I was iffy on Clara to start. Even by this show's kids-show standards she feels like an absolute looney tune, but her introduction episode convinced me that this smile is worth protecting
To start with she has one of the neatest powers I've seen: infinite counterfeiting
Now before we get into the quandary that this somehow includes living creatures, it makes sense that she's so desperate to make friends in a world that doesn't even know the meaning of the word "friendship" that she gives and gives for attention
It's a remarkably touching bit of character writing for a show that's mostly about low-stakes feelgood vibes. Clara knows her personality can drive people away, so she's convinced that using her powers to buy companionship is the only way to not be lonely. And I think that's something a lot of folks can relate to from growing up
And the best part is, when Iruma offers her genuine friendship, she gets the confidence to go full DIO on the guys who used her
I'm so proud of her! Granted, having her as a friend isn't exactly easy, as she is very good at doing crimes
Friendship is a give-and-take, okay. Sometimes you give each other popsicles and sometimes you take things without paying. Though on the topic of friendship I kind of wish Iruma's first friend, Ass Azz had gotten a more earnest introduction. I know the joke is that he becomes Iruma's companion because he's impressed by him, but it's a little awkward to juxtapose Clara's introduction with Azz-Azz embodying servitude.
I keep hoping he'd get a bit more but he's sadly pretty static. Clara playing off him at least gives him more than a single dimension and he's getting a little bit of chemistry with the resident Strong Man, but overall he is the weakest main character by far
Though I guess if you like pretty boy aristocrats whose praise leans close to intimate I'm sure you'll love him as he is
Overall the series' humor is good-natured enough that Azz never feels uncomfortable, but it is something I hope it eventually addresses. Iruma thinking of him as a friend is still cute in its own right at least.
Speaking of cute, the crudely drawn post credit scenes are adorable and generally some good follow up gags to the episode
Thank you for reminding me of maybe the best part of the whole show, when Iruma ends up befriending this Ori & The Blind Forest boss and its baby
I love Giant Mothman and his bird babby
It's a good summation of the charm of Iruma-kun I think. You know pretty much the moment you see it that Iruma will inevitably make nice with it as another accidental display of supremacy, but he does it through genuinely caring about its injured baby, which is sweet, and comes packaged around this guy's own goofy introduction
I'm still undecided on Sabnock. While I do appreciate his New Guy in Prison attitude towards school of thinking that immediately beating up a teacher will make him the best, he's got the problem of a lame speech quirk and also being very one-note. He does recognize that Iruma's empathy makes him a worthy rival to his brute strength, but he's still a bit bland as the generic strong boy. Where he truly shines is when his dumb levels exceed logic
I can understand that. For my part I was won over the moment he interrupted his own Dramatic Backstory to clarify that no, he actually just wants to be Demon King because being Demon King is cool, and he's cool, ergo he should be the coolest Demon King
He also gets his power from biting metal so really hoping this Himbo is smart enough to avoid lead
Honestly though we're 6 episodes in and the amount of time devoted to each character is impressive. Judging from the OP/ED, in which other characters get shown repeatedly, there's still a few main ones that haven't been fully explored. Like ice :T girl
Or the latest episode's feature, Student Council President with forbidden knowledge
Ah you mean the lost Rosario + Vampire character
At least she's found a better show
True. Though as tickled as I am by her ancient, forbidden grimoires just being shojo manga, I'm a little bit hesitant about where the show seems to be going with her. Like I know this is technically isekai but does that really mean we need Iruma to have a harem?
Yeaaah the harem being relegated to the ED is more than enough for me. I'm hoping the next episode clarifies this a bit, but considering how every joke so far has been kind of "yes and" I think we might actually have a human lover here. Though I would really prefer if he manages to become her dealer with the good shit like Lovely Complex or Yona of the Dawn. Or at least get Magic Grandpa to cast whatever language spell he did on Iruma on her so that she can read the forbidden runes
That's more or less my hope too, but even if it takes the more traveled route I trust that Iruma-kun will handle it with the same lighthearted charm it has everything else so far. It's never laugh-out-loud funny, but sometimes you just want a chill, friendly time with a bunch of weirdos, and this show's delivered that in spades so far.
I just have one serious request for this show: please get rid of the knockoff Minions
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